Re-scripting <i>Ivanhoe</i>

Ann Rigney

in The Afterlives of Walter Scott

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644018
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738784 | DOI:
Re-scripting Ivanhoe

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Chapter 3 continues the discussion of procreativity, focusing on Ivanhoe (1819), the Scott novel that has generated the greatest number of versions of itself on page, stage, and screen. Why was this novel so procreative and, relative to other works by Scott, over such a long period? Analysing the multiple Ivanhoe scripts produced for stage and screen, it shows how it helped relay stories (specifically relating to Robin Hood) from oral culture into the mass media. It argues that Ivanhoe’s longevity was above all generated by its structural ambivalence. It offered a highly narrativized account of the Middle Ages, but was also fraught by a tension between the story’s outcome and its emotional and aesthetic economy, centred on the outsider figure of the Jewess Rebecca. This tension resonated with contemporary identity formations in several countries inviting people to continuously engage with it by re-writing the story.

Keywords: Ivanhoe; procreativity; narrative; ambivalence; Rebecca; Jews; theatre; national identity; popular culture; re-writing

Chapter.  11081 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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